Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ever swim with Whales??

Last week was a new adventure. Earlier this year a few friends that I work with made plans to travel to Canada for a fishing trip in September. It would be perfect, cool temperatures, remote wilderness, and tons of silver salmon! The perfect “man” trip! Little did I know when I made these plans that I would be right smack in the middle of intense Ironman training.

With the plane tickets booked already, there was no way of backing out of this trip. In addition, I REALLY wanted to go fishing so off to Canada we go. My trip started early on Sunday morning. Up to Portland, then to Vancouver, B.C., then a short plane ride to Campbell River. From Campbell river we had a 2 and a half hour drive up and over a mountain, literally. The road was dirt most of the way. Around 9:30pm that night we finally made it to Tahsis, our new home away from home.

Fishing started early as it usually does so no room for training before heading out on the water. The scenery was incredible! Fishing was a little slow, but we were catching enough fish to keep a smile on my face. Water temperature was 58 degrees, plenty warm for a swim with a wetsuit. Around noon I decided that I should probably slip on my wetsuit and go for a little open water swim. We were trolling in a remote bay that had timber right down to the waters edge. My plan was to swim back and forth from one side of the bay to the other, about a 200 yard lap. Then something crazy happened. As I was planning my swim and exactly where I would be swimming a huge whale came barreling out of the water, EXACTLY WHERE I WAS GOING TO BE SWIMMING! After seeing this enormous creature hogging my “lane” I decided against any open water swimming as you can imagine. I was a little bummed because I really wanted to use my new Aqua Sphere wetsuit but it just wasn’t meant to be. Can you imagine swimming and having a giant whale swim by? Or better yet, bump into you! That’s just crazy talk!

After fishing 10 hours we made our way back to Tahsis. We cleaned the boat, cleaned the fish and headed to the cabin. The sun was setting and I knew if I was going to run, I would have to do it right now. I was tired, hungry and I’ll be honest, running was the last thing I wanted to do. I ate a few PowerGels to give me a little pick me up and laced up the shoes. Man was I sluggish. It seemed like I wasn’t really running, but more of a speed walk. I went a few miles and looked at my pace, it was official snail pace. The challenge is my heart rate was as high as it is when I do intervals. Not a good combo. I ran up the road we came in on 4 miles before realizing I had to run back down this same road to make it back home and it was almost dark. The streets were lined with brush and trees. The sky was barely visible in the thick canopy of trees. As I made my way back it seemed like a tunnel was formed and it was closing in with darkness. Needless to say my pace picked up a bit since I didn’t want to get eaten by a bear. Once I made it back to the house I was glad to be home, but very glad that I pushed through the workout.

The next day we had a great day of fishing. If you ever have the chance to catch silvers, these fish are amazing. Fishing was so good that we didn’t make it back to the dock until it was dark. Same situation as the day before, tired, hungry and knowing that I needed to run. I quickly did my chores and laced up my shoes again. This time I didn’t venture outside of the little village but did 2 mile loops. My pace an heart rate were much better this night. I think it was because fishing was so good!

The next day was our last day and I knew if I was going to get a run in that it would have to be before we got on the boat. The only challenge with this was I was already getting to bed late and my two friends (and I) wanted to get an extra early start back on the water because we didn’t have a lot of time before we had to leave and our optimism towards the amount of fish we were going to catch was high. The next morning came fast and once again I found myself running the 2 mile loop through the village. As I ran I realized that not a soul was awake which was kind of cool. I got my run in and quickly got ready for some more fishing.

Unfortunately we had slow day and like that we were making our way back over the mountain to Campbell River. Sleep came quickly that night.

The next day was a full day of travel. I made it to Boise around 5:30 and was greeted by smiles from my kids and wife. I love it when they get to pick me up from the airport. Unfortunately as soon as I got home, I knew I had to get on the bike. It had been 5 days since I last rode and the countdown to Kona is not slowing down. I was on the trainer by 6:30pm and rode the first 60 miles of the Kona course. 3 hours total ride time. It felt good to be back in the saddle and I had a special little training partner for part of the ride.

The next morning I rode another 30 miles of high cadence spinning in the early morning then headed to pool. No fear of giant whales or sea creatures at the YMCA. I swam surprisingly good. I have to imagine the rest was good for me. I then went into the office for a few hours before heading home for my long run. I ended up going 20.5 miles and it was a little tough. I was pretty tired from the previous workouts and the travel but got the long run in which is always nice. That night Andrea and I went to Les Mis with some friends. It was good, but a little long. 3 hours with it ending at 11pm is way past my bedtime. It was nice to spend the evening with Andrea though.

The next morning came quickly once again and before I knew it I was back in the pool. I swam the full Ironman distance straight. Swim time was 1 hour 17 minutes. Swimming is not my strongest of the 3 disciplines but it’s still fun to do. After my swim I was back on my bike only this time it was outside. The air was filled with smoke from the surrounding forest fires in the Boise area but it didn’t seem to bother me too much. I rode 92 miles and called it a day. By the time I finished it was 4:00pm and I really wanted to spend some time with my family.

This week was a good example of just how patient and supportive that Andrea is. I felt guilty each time I had to hit the road to train instead of being with her and the kids. Each time though she always showed me her support and encouraged me to keep going. I don’t take this lightly and recognize that her sacrifice to make this possible is just as big or bigger than the sacrifice an athlete takes to train for an Ironman. Such a key component!

For the week I swam 7400 yards, biked 182 miles and ran 41.5 miles. Not as much mileage as I’ve had the last few weeks, but I had to dig as deep as I’ve ever had to this week to get it done. In the end though, it will all be worth it if I can cross the finish line in Kona for my precious ORPHANS WITH DOWN SYNDROME!!

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